Food and nutrients

A balanced diet

Home TeachersFood and nutrientsA balanced diet

A balanced meal comprises food from each food group.

A balanced diet is seen differently in different countries.

These standards take into account the culture and resources available in each country. Everyone can manage to have a balanced diet - in their own way

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Food culture

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A balanced meal includes at least a drink, fruit and vegetables and some starch. We also have to consider proteins, either from meat, fish or, for vegetarians, from eggs, tofu, a dairy product or pulses. We have to add a little fat too.


A balanced diet is illustrated differently from one country to another.

Keywords > The Swiss pyramid

In Switzerland, the food pyramid has several layers. The food on the upper storeys should ideally be eaten in lower quantities than those on the lower levels.

Keywords > The Japanese spinning top

The Japanese diagram is in the shape of a spinning top. It is different from other illustrations as it includes the idea of physical activity through a person running on the top around a large glass of water.

Keywords > The bowl from Guinea-Bissau

Keywords > MyPlate in the US

You will find a bowl in Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa or MyPlate in the US. These illustrations allow you to understand the main principles behind a healthy diet and also take on board the resources available in each country and the local cultural habits.


Every country in the world can achieve a healthy diet – but each country does it in its own way! The differences can be seen in all food groups, but particularly in the starch food.

A traditional Swiss meal includes boiled potatoes, whereas an American meal would usually have chips and a Mexican meal corn tortillas. An Indian or Japanese meal often includes rice, while a meal from Mali may include a bowl of millet.

If you consider the geographical origins of food, you can quickly see where these differences come from. Bearing in mind that corn comes from southern Mexico, it is not surprising and it is even common sense that a Mexican meal includes corn tortillas.

Some countries prohibit certain kinds of food.

For example, cows are sacred in the Hindu religion in India.

The Quran and the Torah prohibit eating pork as pigs are considered to be impure animals. Respecting these prohibitions plays a role in defining the identity of each community. Even where certain kinds of food are prohibited, the variety of food available to us should mean we can eat a balanced diet.

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